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Residents’ generosity helped raise over $52,000 for poppy campaign

'I can’t thank the people of Moose Jaw enough. They really stepped up,' said poppy chairman Bob Travale

Moose Jaw residents demonstrated their support for veterans this past November by opening their wallets and generously contributed financially to the legion’s poppy campaign.

“We did really good this (past) year,” exclaimed Bob Travale, poppy chairman with Moose Jaw’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 59. “Thanks to the more than 250 businesses and organizations in Moose Jaw and the people who donated, we brought in $52,418.86.”

Donations came in from various sources, such as sales of pins and wreaths, from poppy day, the poppy boxes, during a Moose Jaw Warriors game ($900), and during the annual Remembrance Day service ($9,000).

Poppy campaign members will meet on Jan. 21 to decide to whom they should donate the money obtained during the campaign. Some money will be given to the Dr. F. H. Wigmore Regional Hospital since both veterans and serving members of the military use the building for medical support.

Saskatchewan Command donates some funding from the collective provincial poppy campaign to the Leave The Streets Behind initiative in Regina, since there are many homeless veterans there, said Travale. The Moose Jaw legion has also supported some veterans here who have faced housing issues.

“These are public funds. They don’t necessarily belong to the (Moose Jaw) legion,” he continued.

The legion has about $71,000 in the bank that it has accumulated from past poppy campaigns. This funding, explained Travale, is kept in an account since it could be needed for unexpected issues that arise, either locally or provincially. For example, provincial command could ask the legion to provide some funds to support a veteran in Assiniboia who needs braces or dentures.

“It could be a veteran elsewhere in Saskatchewan (who) also needs help,” he said. “The smaller legions just don’t raise enough money.”

The money from poppy campaigns is usually designated to help a veteran. However, if necessary, the Moose Jaw legion could ask for permission from provincial command to spend money on its building. Specifically, the money would go toward upgrading the chairlift, since both veterans and seniors use the device.

As part of the November poppy campaign, Travale ordered in 10 boxes of poppies, with each box containing 1,000 of the little red flowers. He estimates that residents picked up 40,000 poppies during the two-week Remembrance campaign.

What also turned out to be popular with people were the little black metallic clasps that are pinned to the middle of the poppy to keep it attached to a jacket or shirt. Travale initially ordered 5,000 of the clasps but had to drive back to Regina three more times to pick up more. He believes at least 20,000 of the clasps were sold, which at $2 each, likely generated $40,000.

“But we really did well. I can’t thank the people of Moose Jaw enough,” he reiterated. “They really stepped up.”

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